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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Public Interest in Prostatic Artery Embolization: An Analysis of Search Query Data


Background: Prostatic artery embolization (PAE) is an emerging treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). However, changes in public interest in PAE over time, especially relative to interest in alternative BPH treatments, are difficult to assess. The online tool for analysis of the popularity of top search queries (Google Trends; Alphabet Inc) provides a relative search volume (RSV) of specified keywords and insight about patterns of user searches.

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to assess changes in public interest in PAE over time and compare them with changes in public interest in alternative BPH treatments as indicated by search queries.

Material and Methods: Using Google Trends, we identified the RSV of specified keywords within search queries submitted between 2010 and 2019 in the United States. The RSVs of keywords with high search volume were identified and normalized on a scale of values from 0 to 100. Interest in PAE was assessed by comparing RSVs and trends of the keyword PAE as well as of other prostate-treatment-related keywords. Prostate embolization was a PAE-related, BPH-treatment-specific keyword with the highest average RSV. A linear regression analysis was performed to characterize annual search trends of the use of these keywords. Subsequently, the annual search trend of prostate embolization was compared with that of keywords related to transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) and minimally invasive surgical treatments (MISTs).

Results: The mean annual RSV of prostate embolization increased by 8.6 fold between 2010 and 2019. However, during this period, the mean RSV of the keywords transurethral resection of the prostate and TURP were 3.6 and 49.3 times higher, respectively (P<0.0001), than the mean annual RSV of prostate embolization. Moreover, the MIST-related keywords rezum and urolift showed respective mean RSVs 3.1 and 9.0 times higher (P<0.0001) than the mean annual RSV of prostate embolization.

Conclusions: Search query data can elucidate public interest in interventional radiologic (IR) procedures. An increase in RSVs of PAE keywords over time suggests increasing public knowledge of and about the procedure. However, the RSVs of PAE keywords is far lower than the RSVs of keywords related to urologic surgeries, suggesting the need for continued efforts to educate patients and providers about the nature and the values of IR procedures.

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